Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Films: 2005

Continuing in my breakdown of the last 10 years in Film, here's my Top 10 for 2005.

10. Good Night, and Good Luck.
I am a history teacher and one of my favorite periods in American History is the Red Scare. George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. is a perfect embodiment of what Edward R. Murrow did for Broadcast journalism. The performances throughout the black and white drama are ideal and the ability to match real footage with the story is superb. Good Night, and Good Luck. is a rare movie that takes a snippet from US History and gives the viewer a immaculate recreation of the events and their impact.

9. Capote
Not the first spin done on Truman Capote or any of his works, but by far the best. Capote finally gave Philip Seymour Hoffman center stage to display his talents. The result a unsurpassed portrayal of Truman Capote which included Hoffman winning an Oscar. Hoffman is a dynamic character, one of the best of my generation, and he shines as Capote. The film itself is somewhat of a slow burn, however I do enjoy it nonetheless. I will never turn away a slow drama as long as its impact is meaningful. Capote remains to be just that. Lastly, a mention of the finished performance by Clifton Collins Jr. playing one of the accused should be noted. Collins Jr. to this day remains a supporting character in most of his films, but he always highlights a cast.

8. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
The only Star Wars prequel worth a shit. The other two are essentially a waste a time, something that we loyal fans wish we could just wipe from our memory banks. While many did not like Episode III - Revenge of the Sith either, I love it. It was the first time that George Lucas had my full and undivided attention throughout the prequels. Unlike in The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, I did not nitpick the story line. I really enjoyed the dark themes and final transformation to the darkside by Anakin. The final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin is devastating. Truly heartbreaking. In the end, I felt that Lucas at the very least mended the disasters he had made in the first two prequels. Furthermore, he ended Revenge of the Sith as a nice bridge into A New Hope and the original Star Wars Saga.

7. A History of Violence
Another graphic novel I enjoyed endlessly that was adapted into a very solid film. Filled with a exceptional cast including Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, William Hurt and directed by David Cronenberg, A History of Violence is perfect tale about the past coming back to haunt you. The performances alone are reason to love this film, but Cronenberg does a knock-out job adapting the original material for the screen. The film really does a fantastic job of selling the viewer which results in a phenomenal 3rd act.

6. Match Point
One of Woody Allen's best films in the past decade. Woody Allen is an all time favorite. The guy just keeps making solid films one after the other and Match Point is no different. Not one of the more typical Allen films, Match Point delivers a intriguing love triangle, but a fantastic finish. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson both deliver staggering performances and Matthew Goode, well he's a charmer. While Match Point is not Allen's most witty film, it is nonetheless a work of art.

5. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
A mystery caper, Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. That is enough for me to already want to give a film top honors, but Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang remains a unexpected delight. The film is brilliantly written, the performances are unmarred and the combination or murder, mystery and comedy makes Shane Black's directorial debut a polished film in 2005. Downey Jr., Kilmer and Monaghan's chemistry throughout the film is indisputable. They do really shine together under Black's dialogue and direction.

4. The Constant Gardener
Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener is a amazing experience. One of the better back tracking tales of the last decade that gave viewers a heartbreaking love story, an intense suspense thriller and a political message that drives home awareness of the subject matter. Ralph Fiennes is one of the best working actors in Hollywood and his co-stars are all unmarred actors themselves. Deservingly so, Rachel Weisz won a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress because of her gripping portrayal as a volunteer desperate to help African refugees. The Constant Gardener isn't a film I have re-visited as often as others in the last decade, however it is one of the most powerful I have watched.

3. Batman Begins
Batman Begins represents satisfaction for this epic Batman fan. First and foremost director Christopher Nolan stripped away all of the good for nothing frill that plagued the previous two Batman installments. Nolan furthermore took the Batman story back to its roots, something Cowl fans have dreamed of done right. The second biggest factor that makes Batman Begins a devastating improvement from its predecessors is its reality. The comic book story is set in a very believable world that we all can relate with. Adding Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/ Batman also added to the film's overall luster. Bale is an astonishing actor and having him under the cowl has been a true blessing. Batman Begins is a flawless reboot to a franchise that had gone astray. It is endlessly enjoyable, action filled and takes a dark approach that trumps all of previous Batman films before it.

2. Oldboy
Oldboy actually released overseas in 2003, however it did not release here in the US till 2005. Regardless of it's release date, Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy is a superb thriller. Oldboy is the first Park Chan-Wook film I've seen and since then, there is not a film of his I haven't seen and enjoyed. Oldboy however remains my favorite of his to date. Usually films that house a big reveal within the third act, it is hard to retain repeated engaged viewings, but Oldboy does in every way. The performances throughout are stirring to say the least, but it is Chan-wook's story that grabs you and never let's go. His perfect blend of drama, action, gore and mystery is impeccable. Oldboy cannot be mentioned without noting the fantastic one shot action sequence. Just one of many memorable scenes from Oldboy, but watching as Oh Dae-Su makes his way through his captors down one continuous hallway is one of the best shots of the decade hands down.

1. The Squid and the Whale
I am a huge fan of Noah Baumbach's writing and directing and The Squid and the Whale is his best to date. Coming from a family of divorced parents my connection with the story is undeniable. I absolutely love films about inter-family dynamics and Baumbach and Wes Anderson seem to be at the pinnacle of the spectrum. The Squid and the Whale has a striking cast including Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Laura Linney, Anna Paquin and Owen Kline. Like other Baumbach scripts each of the characters are perfectly penned and flawlessly portrayed by said actors. The Squid and the Whale also does a fabulous job of exploring sexual awareness amongst teen boys. Watching as Frank and Walt Berkman struggle with their identity takes me back to the confusion of my teenage years. Overall The Squid and the Whale is my favorite film from 2005 and one of the best to date looking at a dysfunctional family.